Facial steaming is said to relieve congestion and boost hydration. But the way you deep cleanse your pores makes all the difference to your skin
Our skin rarely looks more fresh or dewy than after a bath. There’s a reason for that. The cloud of warm steam that rises from the surface of the water boosts circulation and coaxes the paste-like mixture of oil and dead cells from our pores. Facial steaming is a key fixture in East Asian skincare regimes. Now the trend is catching on in Scandinavia via facial steamers – devices that heat the water to between 40°C-43°C, the sweet spot for removing impurities and giving skin that elusive rosy glow.
The benefits of facial steaming
While facial steamers won’t open and close your pores – it’s practically impossible – they will heat up the skin and make them more pliable. “This allows the steam to get inside more easily,” says Lisa Halldén, aesthetician and brand manager at Babor Sweden. “Any dead cells that are lodged there soften, and blackheads are easier to remove when deep cleansing the skin.” It’s also the reason that water droplets carry moisture deep into the skin to hydrate it.
Another way to think of facial steaming is as an all-natural way to boost collagen and keep the mattress of your skin plump and juicy. “The warm steam dilates your blood vessels and increases circulation, which helps to oxygenate the blood and ensure that nutrition reaches the tissues more easily,” adds Halldén. “In the long run, this improves collagen production but the immediate effect is a healthy glow. The steam also prepares skin to better absorb products, so apply your skincare immediately to damp skin.” Makes sense; the ingredients in your serum are able to penetrate more deeply if there’s nothing gritty in the way.
Best facial steaming devices
While this warmth can reap benefits, filling a bowl with piping hot water and throwing a towel over your head isn’t going to do your skin any favours, says Danish-born aesthetician Gunilla Eisenberg. “With a facial steamer you can control the temperature more easily. This is particularly important if you have sensitive skin or rosacea, as heat can aggravate the skin and cause more inflammation.” Anyone with these skin types may like to consider the Foreo UFO2. While it’s not technically a steamer, this facial gadget has the same thermal benefits to relax pores and ensure serums deep dive into your skin.
Science also sets facial steamers apart from old-school methods. Cast your mind back to chemistry class and you’ll recall that positive and negatives ions are attracted to each other. Skin has a positive charge – steamers release negatively charged particles – so the water droplets are drawn even deeper into the skin than the steam from your bath.
Facial steamers to buy
Best way to use a facial steamer
The best way to steam is to do so for three to 10 minutes, preferably twice a week, says Eisenberg. “Cleansing before removes any surface dirt, makeup and pollution particles. Be sure to spend about 45 seconds thoroughly working a cream or gel cleanser into the skin. Remove with a cloth to lift any residue that may clog pores and prevent the steam from doing its job properly."
Post-steam, Eisenberg recommends using an exfoliating cleanser to gently remove any grime that may have become dislodged, or a mask for an extra shot of hydration. “Then immediately replenish your skin with moisturiser or facial serum,” she adds, as this will prevent moisture evaporating from your new squeaky-clean pores. Bye-bye Paris filter…